Many are clueless or thoughtless over 2m distancing - Alastair Dalton

No one has reached over me in the supermarket so far, but it’s coming close.

Physical distancing on Bruntsfield Place in Edinburgh. Picture: Sustrans Scotland/Colin Hattersley.
Physical distancing on Bruntsfield Place in Edinburgh. Picture: Sustrans Scotland/Colin Hattersley.

We are still mired in a pandemic that can be frighteningly easily spread, with thousands told to stay at home and the rest of us urged to take extreme care.

However, when walking out of your door and encountering some people, you’d think Covid-19 had never happened.First it was joggers, who I’ve written about before, and who now appear to be getting the message.

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But now I’m noticing how frequently pedestrians seem oblivious to the 2 metre distancing rule.

Shoppers in a supermarket before the 2m distancing rule was introduced. Picture: Tolga Akmen.

I’m not sure some people have any idea of distance, a bit like drivers who don’t know the width of their car so can’t judge whether they can manoeuvre through a narrow space.

Without wanting to sound ageist, many of those passing too close to me have been older people.

Are they confused by the metric system?

After all, 2m might not sound that much.

Perhaps it would be better expressed in old money as an imperial measurement - since it’s more than six and a half feet?

I’ve challenged several people who have come too close to me, but they seemed to be in denial - one of them indignantly so.

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I’ve since checked the 2m distance with a family member and found that if you can touch the other person when both of you have your arms outstretched, you’re too close.

Maybe I err on the side of caution, but when I step off a pavement I know is less than 2m wide to let someone pass, I’m as likely to get a puzzled look as an appreciative smile from the person coming towards me.

If streets are problematic, shops are a nightmare.

Many aisles are less than 2m wide, but some fellow shoppers I’ve encountered don’t even attempt to pass on the opposite side and plough through no further away from me than in the past.

If you start backing away as someone approaches in a narrow aisle, you can get some very funny looks.

It doesn’t help that some supermarkets, despite marking lines on the floor, don’t label these as being 2m apart, to give help people lacking spatial awareness.

People seem to be paying no more attention to the official advice face coverings.

I’ve seen people wear them on the streets, which I understand is pointless, while a minority of shoppers I’ve encountered in stores are bothering with them.

I don’t think I’ve seen a single member of shop staff wearing them either, and, while they are voluntary, it doesn’t exactly send out the right message to customers.

That’s especially the case because staff seem no better than shoppers at distancing, and I’m as likely to have to dodge out of their way as to take evading action from a thoughtless customer.

You might ask why this matters when the spread of the virus appears to be declining, and other countries seem to be managing with shorter distancing, such as 1m in France.

But it seems we are going to have to live with distancing for a long time, if not indefinitely.

A shorter distance could require other tighter restrictions.

As lockdown restrictions progressively ease, distancing will become a greater issue with more people on the streets and more smaller shops being allowed to re-open.

If we’re going to have distancing rules - whatever that distance - everyone is going to have to learn to stick to them rather better than they are managing far.

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